Monthly Archives: February 2014

“What was that designer thinking?” This is the sort of question that gets asked a lot when faced with, say, a languorous evening dress from Hussein Chalayan decorated not with multicoloured beads or paillettes but fake nail tips (brilliant repurposing of basic beauty object?) followed by a smoky organza gown with a peekaboo panel opened in the front to reveal the bustier that lies beneath (here is what you do not see?).

Blame Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel (or maybe even the eight female ministers that make up half of the cabinet of Matteo Renzi, Italy’s new prime minister), but these days trouser suits and women in power just seem to go together like, well, jackets and pants.

This Sunday is the Oscars, which as we all know is the be-all and end-all of red carpet dressing, and may explain the notable lack of Hollywood celebrities at Paris Fashion Week thus far: they’re all back in Hollywood, juicing in order to get their stomachs flat. Or, in fact – and here’s what I am thinking – there may be something else going on. Something that has to do with changing markets, and marketing. Read more

Today the FT is reporting that Blackstone is the clear leader in the race for the Versace minority stake – which is surprising on the surface, given that the private equity firm has never made any forays into high fashion, and private equity as a sector has had mixed results in the sector, sic Permira and Valentino, and TPG and Bally. So why the mutual attraction? I was speculating with a colleague recently, and she mentioned what is probably the magic word: hotels. Aka the Next Big Brand extension of luxury. Read more

Because today is Dries Van Noten’s show, the first biggie of Paris Fashion Week, and given the interest in his Lunch with the FT last Saturday, following are some out-takes from our interview: moments that did not make it into the final draft because of space or continuity, but that illuminate something about the man, or the industry. They’re not quite as funny as Adam Sandler out-takes, but they’re very revealing. Read more

Today is travel day, as the fashion flock leaves Milan and heads to Paris, the last leg of the four-week marathon that is the womenswear collections, and often the week one that produces the most highs and lows and sheer spectacle. So what are we looking forward to? Four major debuts are taking place this week – more new names at old houses than in any other city. Here are the big ones to watch: Read more

Today may be the day the big names – Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein – come out to play in New York, but in Paris it’s all about the new ones. The shortlist for the LVMH Young Designer Prize, which was launched in November by Delphine Arnault, has just been unveiled, creating much buzz amid the fashion crowd.

There are 30 in all. Most of the hot names in New York and London are on it, including many who are often finalists for the Vogue Fashion fund competitions in both countries: Suno, Hood by Air and Creatures of the Wind from the first, and Simone Rocha, Thomas Tait (who won the Dorchester Prize) and Meadham Kirchoff from the second. To name a few. Also Stella Jean, the young Italian designer who got her big boost from Armani last season. Read more

LVMH has confirmed it has taken a minority stake in Young Italian Designer (we will not acronym that for obvious reasons) Marco de Vincenzo, making him the second such up-and-comer to receive such investment from the luxury behemoth, and underscoring the increasing competition among the established groups to identify, and potentially own, new talent. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but there’s no question, it’s putting its money where its mouth is. At least some money. Read more

By all rights, designer Dries Van Noten could be excused for being a bit grand. We meet a few days after his wildly applauded Paris menswear show and just over a month before his womenswear collection, one of the hottest tickets of fashion week thanks to Van Noten’s ability to combine the elaborate (extreme embroidery) with the ethnic (far-flung tribal references) and the casual (tailored khakis) – plus, last season, a live soundtrack courtesy of Colin Greenwood, Radiohead’s bass player.

Kiev was burning and in Milan, Jeremy Scott made his debut at Moschino with a series of bad jokes. This is not the non sequitur it might first appear. Mr Scott could not have known, of course, when he was designing his riff on Moschino/McDonald’s – his pun on fast food and fast fashion realised in red and yellow bourgeois suiting complete with golden arches-cum-hearts or Sponge Bob yellow and black polka dots, his evening silks with junk food prints, his gold-chain-bedecked quilted leather mini suits – what would be going on in the world when it was shown. But that does not matter.

Rebekah Brooks has finally taken the stand to speak for herself in the British phone hacking trial, now entering its fourth month. And what did she choose to wear for the occasion? A plain sapphire blue dress, cream cardigan, thin gold chain, tights, and low-heeled shoes. No makeup. Famous hair restrained. She looked, in other words, not dissimilar to the stereotype of a home counties matron. She did not look like a master of the media universe. For a courtroom observer, it’s a notable choice – as much because of the selections she has made in the past that were seemingly rejected for the stand. Read more

Yesterday, sitting on the benches beside the Alberta Ferretti catwalk as one does, I got to chatting to my neighbour about London Fashion Week. “It was great,” he said, “But it was all the same people you have already heard of. I hope it’s not losing its edge for new talent as it gets more established.” Well, according to the new talent, he should not fear. Read more

It yet another indication that high end fashion brands see growth opportunity in charging ever-further upmarket, today Ralph Lauren (that’s their most recent show, left) named Valerie Hermann, latterly CEO of Reed Krakoff, as President of a newly created Luxury Division. This follows announcements by Louis Vuitton and Gucci that they see their future on the tippy-top of the luxury pyramid. At the same time, the move puts the Ralph Lauren strategy at odds with that of his fellow American “premium brand,” Michael Kors, whose phenomenal growth has been driven in large part by exploiting the price-point opening left when peers deserted the high end for the highest end. It suggest Mr Lauren is going after European competitors, as opposed to Mr Kors. Read more

In the game of fashion telephone, by which a rumour gets whispered to someone on the benches, which gets passed on, and so on, we have reached a new level of nuttiness: over the weekend, the New York Post speculated that Donna Karan’s tears as she took her bow at the end of her 30th anniversary show for her main line (left) — which they identified as her DKNY second line — somehow indicated she might be leaving, a rumour that was picked up by British Vogue’s website, and applied only to the second line – which then got picked up and spread by businessoffashion.com, a taken-seriously-by-the-industry website, which gives the whole thing a certain sheen of corporate credibility (it brought it to my attention, anyway). But let us pause for a minute to consider the likelihood of all this. Read more

Yes, it’s that time again: the time to tally up the celebs to find out which-brand-won-the-red-carpet! I mean, clearly big awards shows are no longer simply about the work, are they? They’re about who wore it best, and whose picture will then get sent out to a quazillion media outlets, and which brand will then get tons of free advertising, and so on. We know this. So let’s take a look at last night’s BAFTA brand-dressed list (not best-dressed list). And the winner was…. Read more

Big Pants
Not the Bridget Jones variety – rather, the wide-legged, generously slouchy, swish-as-you walk kind. Blame it on the overarching trend of the season: a return to comfort dressing – or a simple fashion reaction to the past few seasons of skin-tight rocker trousers. Either way, for autumn/winter the trousers on the catwalk are, finally, almost entirely on the upped-side. This is good news physically (they can hide a multitude of issues) and emotionally too; they have the comfort factor of a good pair of sweatpants. Whether in double-faced cashmere or malleable leather, they can go from office to sofa with just a change of top. Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy would approve.

Much joy and rapture and relief greeted new Mayor Bill de Blasio’s statement to the fashion world at the end of last week that “The fashion industry…is part of how we will build a more unified city and a city where everyone has opportunities,” and the statement by an aide that de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray would “definitely be out and about” at New York Fashion Week. He got it! He knew how important fashion was, as an industry, to the health of the city! He was sending his wife to shows! Except, as far as I can tell, she never – well, showed. Read more